The annual TA orientation conference of the JI Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI) was held on May 18, 2013. The purpose of the conference is to provide intensive training for the teaching assistants who are going to teach in the summer semester. Upon completion the TAs will be prepared to help the students learn effectively and uphold the quality of teaching at JI. Dr.Gang Zheng, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Prof. Olivier Bauchau, Associate Dean of Graduate Education, Sophie Song of CLT-JI, and some faculty and staff members attended the conference with more than 40 teaching assistants.
Dr. Gang Zheng gave the opening address. He recognized the significant role of TAs who serve as a bridge between the students and the instructors，a critical link in the teaching process. He emphasized the importance of English proficiency and Honor Code.
The morning sessions consisted of workshops and seminars. Topics included the use of the Sakai system, grading of homework and exams, teaching strategies and techniques. TAs attended the sessions based on their interests and needs.
Six faculty and staff members, including Heinz Luegenbiehl, Qiang Zhang, Mary Frances Cappiello, Scott Yang, Yu Zhang, and Kelicia Hollis took part in the Q&A panel concerning “TAs’ Roles and Responsibilities.” During the exchange, the instructors shared their expectations of good teaching assistants based on their experience and gave many helpful suggestions and tips. Prof. Bauchau instructed the TAs to help students learn fishing instead of just giving them the fish. Dr. Gang Zheng shared his personal experience to show the importance of English skill for students’ learning and career. Scott Yang, Manager of Student Affairs, encouraged the TAs to be fair and to communicate effectively.
The annual Outstanding TA Awards were presented during the conference. The awards aim to promote teaching excellence and to recognize the contributions of those dedicated TAs over the last year. The winners are Zhaoguang Wang, Yanan Shu, Yuhang Zhang, Biman Tang, and eight other nominees.
The afternoon training involved team competitions in case studies. TAs were divided into groups to tackle three “sticky” scenarios, including ”how to meet the needs of students of different levels,” “how to insist on English teaching in exercise classes,” and “what to do when students ask for higher grades.” Three winning teams and five individual winners were selected.
At the conclusion of the event, many TAs were satisfied with the conference. A TA commented, “This conference provided the top opportunity for TAs to communicate with the professors and other new TAs. The content is very pragmatic and helpful. I enjoyed this conference.”
Background Information: In fall 2010, the UM-SJTU Joint Institute (JI) took the initiative to establish a Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI). Adapting the successful programs and services developed at the CRLT of the University of Michigan, the CLT-JI has provided innovative professional development programs for faculty and teaching assistants at the JI.